Developing a Learning Organization: Three Easy Steps to Evidence-based Practice.

intentional practices Oct 26, 2021
Developing a Learning Organization: Three Easy Steps to Evidence-based Practice.


Are we really learning organizations? Do we use evidence to improve practice?


Are we intentional in our practice?


Consider what a difference these three “small measures” would make in our organizations.


Using Research:

I read an article in the New York Times about an exercise workout that apparently offers incredible benefit in limited time, according to research. I mentioned it to the young person (24 years old) who works with me as a trainer. They have a degree in human kinetics. The response: “Yes, it was developed by researchers at McMaster University. They reported the results in a journal of research in sports medicine. You need to repeat it a few times for best results though.” Now, get this: “We start each staff meeting with the best research we have been reading and someone brought it up last week.” Imagine if every meeting of boards, of professional staff, or boards and senior staff, started that way.


Learning through Informal Presentations:

A high school principal told me how impressed she was to be invited to a lunch meeting at the local police station. They wanted to hear more about the school, its programs and where secondary education was headed. Apparently, every Tuesday, the police officers organize a speaker with lunch. They have been doing this for years. Imagine if we organized our own development using outside presenters before each meeting.


Reading and Doing:

A manager told me how she had to keep up to date and read journal articles and books because the Executive Director made the rounds once a week and would randomly ask professional staff what they had been reading professionally recently, and what we as an organization could learn from it to make our practice better. Who is keeping up to date on governance in your organization? How do they share the Information and implications?


These are not difficult or challenging. But they certainly are not my experiences, just my observations. Just what others are doing.



Imagine the Chair asking the Executive Director on a regular basis what she had been reading recently that would affect programs and services. Or what the latest trends were in the sector. Imagine inviting the municipal social planner to discuss changes and projections in demographics and how that might affect what we do.


Imagine having a standard section on your agenda “For Exploration Only” and having a presentation by your Executive Director, or a Board member, or a senior staff member or an outside expert, on a particular area of interest and concern. An interesting approach after sending people (board or staff) to a course or conference (real or virtual) – what three things did you learn that might have implications for us? Nothing heavy. Just spreading the knowledge and evidence and considering what might be improved.


Perhaps you already do all of these. They cost no money.


They “simply” indicate a desire to keep learning, to keep current and to use evidence to make a difference. They also provide evidence of the role a board might play in shaping not just board, but also organizational, culture through questions and modeling.


So, again, are we really learning organizations? Do we use evidence to improve practice?


Are we intentional in our practice? If not, that too is a decision.



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P.S. May I ask a tiny favour? 

Would you mind sharing this blog with one person? I would love it. You can post the links in your Facebook Groups, LinkedIn or even send an email. 

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